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SPRINGFIELD – Last summer, significant flooding hit Cook County in the wake of historic storms, leaving numerous properties with immense damage and leading President Joe Biden to approve a federal disaster declaration for the area. In response, State Senator Mike Porfirio is leading legislation to address future flooding concerns by giving renters the right to receive critical information about a property’s flooding history before they sign their lease.

“This bill is a crucial step toward ensuring the safety and wellbeing of tenants across the state,” said Porfirio (D-Lyons Township). “By requiring landlords to disclose flood hazards, we are arming renters with the knowledge they need to protect themselves and their families from potential harm.”

Berwyn and Cicero – in the district Porfirio represents – received nearly nine inches of rain in a matter of hours from a storm on June 2 last summer, causing extensive damage to residential and commercial properties and requiring costly repairs. Currently, only seven states require some disclosure of flood risk to renters. Porfirio’s measure would equip potential tenants with essential information about flood risks before renting the property, fostering a fair and informed rental market.

Through the measure, property owners would be required to disclose to every potential tenant if a property is located in a high-risk flooding area. Property owners who rent out lower-level units – such as garden, basement and first floor units – would also have to indicate to tenants if one of those units has flooded within the last 10 years. All disclosures would need to be given in writing prior to signing the lease.

“Access to safe housing is a fundamental right, and it’s important to take proactive steps to address flood-related concerns,” said Porfirio. “This bill prioritizes the safety and security of all residents, particularly those most vulnerable to the impacts of flooding, so it’s common sense to make these practices the standard.” 

Senate Bill 2601 passed the Senate on Wednesday and moves to the House for further consideration.